Sharon Lorenzo visits the Hispanic Society Museum and Library in New York City.

In the newly renovated space at the Hispanic Society is a delightful summer treat.  Visitors can see watercolors from this collection, founded in 1910 by Archer Milton Huntington, son of Collis Huntington, a successful American industrialist, who assembled a collection of 6800 watercolors and drawings in addition to the major paintings and sculptures in the museum.  Paired with decorative art objects from the matching jurisdictions, this show is a breezy way to get to know the material of watercolor that began in the 17th and 18th century as a way for traveling artists to document their findings in advance of the invention of photography. Americans became intrigued with the art of Europe once Tales from the Alhambra by Washington Irving was published in 1832.[i]

Childe Hassam, Ronda, Spain, 1910.

Childe Hassam (1859-1935) was an American artist who had a summer study trip in 1883 with a friend and after returning to New York with sketches and watercolors like the above from the Spanish town of Ronda, he settled In New York and founded a group of ten artists who became known as the American Impressionism group.

                                                                                            Orville H. Peets, Jacaranda Tree, 1918-1921

Another gentleman in the Hassam circle was Orville Houghton Peets (1884-1968) who, after studying in Paris at the Ecolé des Beaux Arts, returned to settle in Delaware where he also taught art at the Wilmington Academy of Art.   In 1919 he received a commission from Huntington which included works like the following study of the Jacaranda tree in Spain. [ii]

Florence Robinson, Court of the Lions, Alhambra Palace, Granada, Spain,  1920-22

Not included with the boys was a female artist from Boston, Florence V. Robinson (1874-1937), who also worked in the watercolor medium and visited the Palace of the Alhambra herself in Granada, Spain. She later had exhibitions of her work in New York galleries and the Boston Art Club as well as the World’s Fair Exposition in St. Louis in 1904. She was a breath of fresh air in a male- dominated world where her work rose to the top on its own strength.


                                                                                                                                   Alhambra Vase, tin-glazed earthenware, 1375-1400

The watercolors in this show are paired with three dimensional items such as this vase from the Alhambra made of tin- glazed earthenware from 1375-1400.  The cobalt inserts allow it to shine as a remnant of the days when the Muslim kings of Northern Africa controlled part of southern Spain and brought Arabic design influences into the cultural mix.

This exhibition is free and open to the public, Thursdays to Sundays from 12 – 6pm.  The newly renovated gallery is a delight as a small intimate space in which to learn about the wonders of these cultures from the artistic gifts of our American artists traveling abroad.

The Hispanic Museum and Library

Hours: East Building Gallery

American Travelers: A Watercolor Journey Through Spain, Portugal, and Mexico. Featuring the Contemporary Works of Timothy J. Clark

17 June–16 October, 2022 | All visitors must show identification and proof of Covid-19 vaccination

613 W. 155th St.  NYC, NY






[i] Burke, Marcus. American Voyagers: A Watercolor Journey. Hispanic Society, 2022, p. 9.

[ii] Ibid, p. 31.